The group plans to support OpenFlow and has “had discussions” with the Open Networking Foundation that oversees the protocol, seen as a key foundation of SDN. However, it’s not clear to what extent Open Daylight will complement or compete with the ONF, which has a full suite of its own technical working groups on APIs and other topics.
A battle for the control of SDN’s future may emerge between the ONF and Open Daylight, especially around APIs for OpenFlow. In addition to having several technical working groups of its own, ONF runs the largest annual SDN event, the Open Network Summit.
The Open DayLight code will be licensed under the Eclipse Public License, the same approach used for Java-based projects. The Linux Foundation said the project will be run like other open-source collaborations. The group’s software will not necessarily be confined to run on Linux but could support other operating systems, too.
Open Daylight appears to be an attempt by large established comms and software companies to counterattack a rising group of mainly startup companies who were among the first to roll out SDN products. However two of the most high-profile startups are also involved in the effort, Big Switch and Nicira, acquired last year by VMWare for more than a billion dollars.
The latest move harkens back to the early days of Unix in computing as well as more recent open-source efforts in server virtualization such as OpenStack. As with Linux, free open-source SDN code could gain market dominance, disrupting early players with proprietary software.
However it’s still early days for SDN with lively debates about exactly what the term means and how its benefits should be delivered in products. In addition, the complexity and proprietary nature of today’s networks prevents any quick or easy roads to SDN.
Indeed, SDN is often described as virtualization for the network, just as VMWare, Citrix, Microsoft and others now provide virtualization for servers. However today’s networks are much more complex than servers with dramatic variations among competing vendors expressed in silicon and low-level software protocols.